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quick 'n' dirty placenames

From:Anton Sherwood <bronto@...>
Date:Thursday, December 13, 2001, 9:29
I am amazed to find that I haven't already thrown this idea at you.

To quickly name places on a virgin planet:

First, randomly assign strings from a large phonology.
This is the pseudo protolanguage.

Then do this many times:
        Slice the planet on a random plane.
        Apply a plausible sound-change to all names on one side of the cut.

Eventually the names ought to be easy to pronounce, and they'll have
regional similarities, as if showing local languages and
language-families; so you can see/hear a name and have a guess where it

(Opening an atlas at random, I find Mukhtolovo, Maplesville, Randonnai,
Shaybah, Bartibougou: can you guess where they are?)

The same trick could be used to name stars in a cluster, but there I'd
refine it a bit: the changes ought to begin as far back in the cluster's
history as the stars' movements can be confidently backtracked, so that
quick-moving stars are likely to have names foreign to their neighbors.
And I'd cut with spheres rather than planes.

All I need to test this idea are a long list of reconstructed
sound-changes and some time/effort to learn appropriate string methods.

Anton Sherwood  --